Friday, July 9, 2010

Puffball, an Invented Game

Damian has invented a summer game called “Puffball,” a fun, silly outdoor game for family or friends. Two to four may play, on grass, sand, or pavement. Required equipment includes one beach ball, tennis racquets (or badminton racquets) for each player, plus something to indicate the corners of up to four squares. We used old tennis balls.

Mark off a Puffball playing square for each player. The squares should be about eight feet on a side and should meet at the corner. (Or you can set them a bit farther apart from each other. All the rules of Puffball are negotiable.)

The game is similar to four-square. The point is to hit the beach ball into your opponent’s square. Each player begins with five points, and when you knock the ball out of bounds or it lands in your square you lose a point. Whoever is closest to the ball at the end of a play gets to serve the next play. Overhead serves are not allowed, and you must stand in the back half of your square to serve.

When a player’s score falls to zero, that player steps aside until the end of the round. The last player with points remaining in a round is that round’s winner and gets to move the back two corners of his square either forward or closer together. Of course, having a smaller square (now a rectangle or trapezoid) gives the person an advantage in the next round.

A ball that lands on a line is re-played. In our family we have passionate arguments about what’s in, out, or on the line. Some may find it helps to use string or chalk marks to delineate their squares rather than imaginary lines between tennis balls.

Those are the basic rules of Puffball. Of course, you can invent your own embellishments. That’s sort of the point. One of our embellishments is that if you “save” a ball that was clearly going out of bounds and manage to hit it into someone else’s box, making them lose a point, then on that play you also gain a point. This motivates people to go after some crazy balls, and they usually miss.

Enjoy Puffball, or write back with your favorite summer game invention!

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